Amesbury Road Marijuana Shop Battle Continues as Mellow Fellows, Haverwell Vie for Special Permits

(File photograph)

To put it bluntly, when it comes to the special permit process regarding the marijuana shops hoping to open on Haverhill’s Amesbury Road, it’s become a “they-said, they-said” battle that doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.

So far, Stem, Full Harvest Moonz and CNA Stores have been given permission to do business in the city, with Mellow Fellows and Haverwell Market now preparing to go before the Council to plead their case ahead of Cannabis Control Commission licensing.

The only problem: Both locations are within one half-mile of one another—and each is claiming they were the first to finalize their application to the city, giving them priority. Internal city documents reviewed by WHAV indicate Mellow Fellows, hoping to open at the former Seafood Etc. property at 339 Amesbury Road, was the first to be approved at 10:47 a.m. on July 2, with Haverwell receiving approval at 11:01 a.m.

Haverwell’s attorney Bill Faraci disputes this timeline, telling WHAV his client was denied due process—especially after filing initial application paperwork with the city on April 12.

“How you can file ahead and not be heard first is beyond us, I don’t care when the information by the city is filed by which departments. It still should go in the order in which the applications were received.” Faraci told WHAV. “We were entitled to be first, but we were also entitled to have all the city reports in first. The fact that they weren’t is what is somewhat mystifying.”

Phil Brown, Tim Riley and Charles Emery, the Haverhill trio that make up the Mellow Fellows, had their attorney Paul A. Magliocchetti submit their application on May 21. When contacted by WHAV, Magliocchetti declined to comment further for this article.

In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment on July 9, Faraci went before the Council to ask why his client’s predetermined hearing date of Aug. 6 was rescinded, but was brushed off when a motion to suspend the rules failed.

Instead, City Council President John A. Michitson tells WHAV he intends to suggest that both shops hold hearings on the same night: Aug. 20. The Council must vote on his idea, but should it take shape, he envisions holding the hearings—including public comment and vote—one after the next. “Even though that is going to be awkward, it seems like that’s the fairest thing to do,” he told WHAV.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle will abstain from the proceedings, as he and his sister Kathy McGonagle Darby are the landlords for the property being eyed by the Mellow Fellows.

Who will go first on hearing night? Michitson’s thought of that too—with a little help from City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr., who suggested flipping a coin.

“From a realism point of view, (the shops are) probably going to be compared—by the citizens, by the Council—even though we’re going to try to be evaluating them individually,” he said. “There is going to be some underlying competition.”

For that reason, waivers for both locations are also being strongly considered, Michitson said. That way, the Council may override the city ordinance that states only one licensed retail marijuana establishment may be located within one half-mile, should they opt to approve both shops.

Michitson notes that the special permit process changed after the first three hearings, where those marijuana shops had to furnish their host community agreements prior to the sessions. Now, the agreements will be inked with Mayor James J. Fiorentini after the hearings.

A final decision on when the special permit hearings for Mellow Fellows and Haverwell Market take place is expected to be announced at the Tuesday, July 23 City Council meeting, Michitson told WHAV.

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